Adam Nudelman

A Sea of Discontent

1 February — 17 February 2018

Born 1967
Lives and works in Victoria

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Represented by nanda\hobbs

Over three decades of artistic practice, Adam Nudelman has refined both his creative vision and technical skill to forge a distinctive interpretation of the Australian landscape. In it, symbolic forms are married with scenes from the natural world that are both meticulously rendered and deeply felt. 

Many of the paintings that comprise this new series contain features that have become classic within Nudelman’s oeuvre. In each work a grassy foreshore leads down to calm waters, with distant hills on the horizon that rise up toward shifting, light-filled skies. Founded upon years of observation and study, Nudelman portrays the landscape with detailed attention. Here, he takes cues from masters of the genre such as Eugene von Guérard, whose accurate depictions of Australia’s unique geology and flora were cast through the lens of the European romantic landscape tradition. Similarly, Nudelman imbues his imagery of Australia’s coastal regions with an emotive, and spiritual dimension. 

Sublime scenes oscillate between atmospheric drama and perfect calm. Yet, these idyllic visions are quietly subverted through the introduction of lone steel structures whose ambiguous presence becomes the focal point within each work. These take different forms. Some bear similarity to shipping markers used to guide vessels through watery straits. Others appear as raised viewing platforms or watch-towers. All speak to the human need to observe, guide and direct, in this context to the safety of the shoreline. This metaphorical resonance is made more pervasive in relation to the motif that is most extensively explored in this body of work – the skeletal form of a boat. 

This shape, more so than Nudelman’s other structures is one that bears an ancient archetypal significance. The artist has represented boat forms intermittently over the past decade, drawing upon their allusions to human movement and migration. In this series he has further developed this powerful motif in response to the international crisis of displaced people fleeing war and persecution. In Nudelman’s work the boats’ elegant and evocative presence in calm Australian coastlines act as a reminder that journeys by sea to find safety, or a new beginning have been a fundamental part of the human narrative. A narrative that nations such as Australia were founded upon, pre and post colonisation. While within the artist’s personal spectrum, the boat form relates to the voyage by sea that Nudelman’s close relatives of Polish Jewish origin made when escaping war torn Europe in the 1940s, a journey that saved their lives. 

As the grandson of European immigrants, Nudelman was an adult when he discovered his Jewish heritage. At this point, his work began to express the tension between belonging to Australian society, versus a sense of dislocation from the newly revealed faith and culture of his relatives. This prompted deep questions about his familial history and what other untold stories might reveal. Such matters go to the core of personal identity, of the need to understand where we have come from in order to locate our place in the world, and it is this silent questioning that has underpinned much of Nudelman’s practice. Yet, it appears in his work as a subtle subtext, rather than the main line.

In terms of technique, Nudelman’s approach is restrained and methodical. He orders the landscape by breaking it down into horizontal bands that stretch across the canvas, generating depth within the picture plane as they move from the foreground to the distant horizon. Above these bands of earth and water that are in part inspired by Mark Rothko’s reductive abstract paintings, Nudelman fills his canvases with immense skies that establish the mood for each picture – be that tranquil or turbulent. Here, the artist’s passion for capturing light and atmospheric effects takes hold. The resulting cloud-scapes are anchored by the weighty stretches of sea and earth below, which are based upon the Gippsland coast in Victoria, or the Hinchinbrook region in QLD that also features in some works in this exhibition. 

Regardless of location, elusive memories seem to haunt Nudelman’s images like the sound of wind passing over vast, open spaces. The artist’s response to the intimate passages of nature allows enough space and quiet for his audience to absorb the view, while contemplating the deeper messages latent within it. Therein lies the works’ captivating quality. 

Marguerite Brown
MA ArtCur
Writer & Curator

\ Exhibition featured works

Adam Nudelman

17 years adrift

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 97x92cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

6pm on the seventh day

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 122x183cm

Adam Nudelman

A sea of discontent

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 112x167.5cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

An island in you heart

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 152x122

Adam Nudelman

Before my eyes were open

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 122x200cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

Before the night divides the day

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 86.5x119cm

Adam Nudelman

Canvassing the stars

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 100x80cm

Adam Nudelman

If that's what it takes

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 82x66cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

Just a replica of what could have been

2017 \ acrylic and oil on linen \ 81x71cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

On the brink of emptiness

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 70x100cm

Adam Nudelman

So many reasons why

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 66x97cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

Sometimes every word has been used

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 152x122cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

The Darkness Only Lasts a Nighttime (triptych)

2015 \ Oil on linen \ 152.5x122 each panel (triptych)

Adam Nudelman

What the days reveal

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 71x60.5cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

When the ears don't hear what the eyes can see

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 112x112cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

When the night holds no answers

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 97x91.5cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

When the stars seem to lose their place

2017 \ Acrylic and oil on linen \ 152x122cm

SOLD

Adam Nudelman

\ Installation Image

Adam Nudelman

\ Installation Image 2

Adam Nudelman

\ Installation Image 3

\ Other exhibitions

Giles Alexander

Turtles All the Way Down

23 May — 9 June 2018

Marie Peter-Toltz

Tonight Think of Me

26 April — 12 May 2018

Anthony White

Sign of Civilisation

5 April — 21 April 2018

Contact Us

to find out more about A Sea of Discontent.

12 - 14 Meagher Street Chippendale, NSW 2008
Opening Hours
9am - 5pm Monday to Friday 11am - 4pm Saturday